Magic Tables Optical Illusion


Here’s an illusion we already had an opportunity to experience first hand in one of our earlier posts. This is the best example I’ve seen up to date. Although it may seem intuitively impossible at first, when we take the shape of the table surface on the left and apply it to the table on the right, it matches exactly! If you don’t believe it, measure the tables with a ruler. Same goes for the books on the tables (they’re both the same size). Amazing isn’t it? Check out the animated proof I created for you below:

Although the brain is aware that these are flat pictures, it constructs a perception of the tables in which depth is taken into account. In this process, the brain unconsciously interprets that the actual depth of the table surface projected onto our retinas should appear shorter than they actually are, and compensates to make them appear longer.

Even after we discover that the two table surfaces are same in size, we still can’t change the interpretation that the brain has constructed! Check the animated proof below, and try to pinpoint at which frame does your brain start to perceive the table surfaces as identical.

  • Heh! I actually validated this in photoshop, I trust my eyes that much haha. So my head still told me the tables had different sizes, but overlaying them I realized my head was telling me the wrong thing!

    BUT! I also realized why. What makes the illusion is the perspective. What makes one side seem shorter/longer than the other is the drawing of the rest of the table.

    The sides facing the viewer seems shorter than the ones going back into the picture, at least this is what I concluded :P So, I guess in the end it is the mind’s way to interpret perspective/depth that plays a role here. Very interesting :)

  • suor de sapo

    I’ve noticed that when I tilt my 16:9 monitor to vertical it looks much longer (higher in this case) and narrower.
    There’s a reference book in some universities from Rudolph Arnheim that talks about this phenomena.

  • Janet

    Absolutely amazing!

  • clues

    That’s pretty cool! I love these kinds of
    illusions. They always get me and they
    are just amazing! So do you have
    anymore? I’d love for you to make
    some more of these kinds of

    Thank You for posting this for us! :D

  • Norm

    Excellent. I found it hard to believe the yellow parallelogram was the same size as the red until I measured them on the screen. Nice find!

  • brooks

    A rather stunningly strong demonstration of the vertical-horizontal illusion. After a lot of experience with illusions I still printed the picture and cut out the “long” table and it fit perfectly over the “short fat” table. Human perception continues to facinate.

  • tienuien

    Seen that, done that, got ten t-shirt from it..

  • Phil

    The legs are not the same.

  • azkesz

    the tables are different sizes in the 3D (which is represented in 2D) but if you take that 3D representation in 2D and strictly look at is as 2D… well you get the idea

  • Sadie Elmsworth

    the tables have the same amount of space but the length changes depending on the shape gievn to the table.

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